Nebraska

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Capitol District Pole Vault Returns to Omaha

15 Jul, 2021

By: Michael Popke

After a one-year break in 2020, the Capitol District Pole Vault returned to Omaha, Neb., in early July. High school, collegiate and professional vaulters from around the country, both men and women, competed in the two-day event set up in the Capitol District of the city’s downtown.

“The excitement for this event [was] even higher after a canceled 2020 meet,” Lindsay Toussant, director of operations for the Omaha Sports Commission, told local media outlets.

The two-day celebration of the sport included a student clinic for aspiring vaulters led by elite vaulters, a new bring-your-own-pole open vault event for any vaulters, a high school invitational and a collegiate/elite competition. Competitors included those who have represented the United States at international meets, including University of Kansas junior Zach Bradford, who was the youngest member of Team USA at the 2019 World Athletics Championships. Bradford also was one of the student clinic instructors.

Omaha’s event was intended to bring fans as close to the action as possible and featured VIP tables located directly behind the pole vault pit. 

“Street vaults — pole vault competitions not conducted at track venues — have been popular for decades in Europe and major meets in the U.S.,” noted Omaha.com.

Such public events give vaulters an opportunity to get inverted in untraditional settings while introducing the sport of pole vaulting to a wide variety of people — many (if not most) of them unlikely to attend a conventional track and field meet.

Indeed, multiple Nebraska cities are hosting street vault events this summer, including the inaugural North Platte Street Vault. The event took place in June at a local brewery and attracted vaulters from Nebraska, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming, according to The North Platte Telegraph. “I think it’s a great turnout,”said Paul Oettinger, owner of event host Pals Brewing Company. “I think we had 28 vaulters signed up. For the first time around, it’s a lot of fun.”

On July 17, the Dauphin Street Vault in Mobile, Ala., will celebrate its 10th year of bringing together pole vaulters of all ages and skill levels (including Olympians and professionals) in the city’s downtown district. The USA Track & Field-sanctioned event typically draws about 250 vaulters and more than 2,000 spectators.

That same weekend, the Eastern Market of Washington, D.C., will host National Street Vault 2021. Sponsored by DC Vault, a premier pole vault club in the region.

The success of these street vault events arelikely to spawn similar events in cities large and small across the country and can easily be added to a community festival’s schedule or tied in with another special event.

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